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Start with “Why”

As an IT professional working for many years with business customers at all levels to provide solutions to complex business problems I have found that traceability is indispensable. Many times you will hear an IT architect or developer come back to a business analyst or customer and say something like, “I need requirements for this!” Although it is true that to follow a healthy SDLC you need to design and code to requirements, in many cases, this scenario could be a symptom of a larger problem. Traditionally the split between what the business contributes and what IT contributes in a project is known as the “What” vs. “How”. Business folks say “What” they need/want and IT folks say “How” it will be done (at least from a systems perspective). The bigger question is, does everyone understand “Why”?

A typical example is a project to replace the existing Customer Portal for a more modern one. A set of use cases and requirements are determined and handed off to IT for design and development. All that makes up the “What”. Hopefully IT then designs a solution that traces back to all the “What’s” that where handed down to them in a clear and executable manner for downstream development and testing to be successful.

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